PFAS Information

PFAS INFORMATION

As part of the ongoing drinking water protection measures by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“US EPA”), the Agency evaluates the presence of emerging and unregulated contaminants in community water supplies on a national basis pursuant to the  Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (“UCMR”). U.S. EPA uses the data collected from these sample results to establish new drinking water standards known as a Maximum Contaminant Levels (“MCLs”). Traditionally, U.S.EPA develops MCLs that are then adopted by states and used to determine if additional actions are needed to respond to contaminant concerns in drinking water. One of the latest potential group of contaminants being reviewed at both the US EPA and Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (“IEPA”) are per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”).

 WHAT ARE PFAS?

According to the IEPA, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”) are a group of man-made chemicals that includes PFOA, PFOS, GenX, and thousands of other chemicals. PFAS have been manufactured and used in a variety of industries around the globe, including in the United States since the 1940s. PFAS are utilized for a variety of applications ranging from water and stain-proofing to firefighting. PFAS persists in the environment and may contaminate surface and ground waters. These chemicals are widely used because they are resistant to heat, water, and oil.

WHERE CAN PFAS BE FOUND?

PFAS can be commonly found in every American household, and in many consumer products, including but not limited to:

  • Non-Stick Cookware
  • Furniture
  • Certain Clothing Fabrics
  • Carpets
  • Pizza Boxes
  • Dental Floss
  • Cosmetics
  • Lubricants
  • Paint
  • Popcorn Bags
  • Self-stick notes

Certain PFAS chemicals are no longer manufactured in the United States as a result of phase-outs, including the PFOA Stewardship Program in which eight major chemical manufacturers agreed to eliminate the use of PFOA and PFOA-related chemicals in their products and as emissions from their facilities. Although PFOA and PFOS are no longer manufactured in the United States, they are still produced internationally and can be imported into the United States in consumer goods such as carpet, leather, and apparel, textiles, paper and packaging, coatings, rubber, and plastics.

WHO SETS GUIDELINES FOR PFAS?

There is not enough information available for scientists to develop health-based screening levels for all the PFAS sampled. Neither the IEPA nor the US EPA has yet developed enforceable drinking water standards for PFAS. Both regulatory agencies are currently in the process of studying PFAS and determining the actual health risks. It is anticipated that it will take the IEPA and US EPA several years to develop their MCL.

In the interim, the IEPA decided to initiate their own process separate from the US EPA and in advance of their ongoing federal review of PFAS. The first step in Phase 1 of the IEPA’s process is underway and includes statewide sampling and analysis at each of Illinois’ 1,456 entry points to the community water supply distribution system to determine how commonly PFAS can be found in community drinking water supplies. 

Due to the prevalence of PFAS in everyday items, the initial statewide sampling has shown the presence of this chemical in small concentrations throughout Illinois. It should be noted that while some wells in surrounding communities have detected PFAS at very low concentrations, a positive sample at a well facility does not necessarily indicate a health risk. While there are still no drinking water standards for PFAS, the IEPA has developed health-based Draft Guidance Levels for PFOA, PFOS, and the five other PFAS set forth below. IEPA will compare the analytical results from its statewide community water systems investigation with the PFAS Draft Guidance Levels to help evaluate future actions that may be taken and to aid in the develop future regulatory standards in Illinois.  

PFAS Analyte

IL EPA

Draft Guidance Level

US EPA

Health Advisory Level

Perfluorobutanesulfonic acid

(PFBS)

140,000

parts per trillion

--

Perfluorohexanesulfonic acid

(PFHxS)

140

parts per trillion

--

Perfluorononanoic acid

(PFNA)

21

parts per trillion

--

Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid

(PFOS)

14

parts per trillion

70

parts per trillion

Perfluorooctanoic acid

(PFOA)

2

parts per trillion

70

parts per trillion

Perfluorohexanoic acid

(PFHxA)

560,000

parts per trillion

--

Hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid

(HFPO-DA)

560

parts per trillion

--


HAVE PFAS BEEN DETECTED IN ANY VILLAGE WELLS?

Yes. The IEPA recently tested our water system for 18 compounds known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”) as part of the statewide investigation of community water supplies.

The Village of Cary currently operates 9 wells at 8 separate water treatment plant facilities. Testing at 6 of the village well facilities has been completed by the State of Illinois and PFAS were either not detected or below the minimum reporting concentration possible with the current laboratory testing method (2 parts per trillion). Well #10 on Fox Trails Drive North is still under construction and cannot be tested until after it is completed in summer 2021.

It was determined through testing that two unregulated PFAS compounds, Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Perfluorohexanoic acid (PFHxA), were detected in finished water sampled from the shared water treatment plant for Well #8 and Well #9. Well #8 and Well #9 are shallow groundwater wells located along Spring Street, south of downtown Cary. 

None of analytes sampled were above the federal US EPA health advisory levels. The level of PFHxA detected is well below the IEPA’s initial guidance level of 560,000 parts per trillion. The level of PFOA detected is slightly above the IEPA initial guidance level of 2 parts per trillion (which was set at the lowest value that can be physically measured in currently available testing procedures) but well below the US EPA’s health advisory level of 70 parts per trillion. 

The initial testing results below are presented in nanograms per liter (ng/L), equal to parts per trillion (ppt). For reference: 1 ng/L is equivalent to about 1 ounce in 7.5 billion gallons.

PFAS Analyte

IL EPA

Guidance

Level

US EPA

Health Advisory

Level

 

Well #8 / #9

Finished Tap

Level Range Detected

Well #10

To Be Tested

After Construction

All Other Village Wells

Perfluorobutanesulfonic acid (PFBS)

140,000

parts per trillion

--

 

Not Detected

Not Tested

Not Detected

Perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (PFHxS)

140

parts per trillion

--

 

Not Detected

Not Tested

Not Detected

Perfluorononanoic acid

(PFNA)

21

parts per trillion

--

 

Not Detected

Not Tested

Not Detected

Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS)

14

parts per trillion

70

parts per trillion

 

Not Detected

Not Tested

Not Detected

Perfluorooctanoic acid

(PFOA)

2

parts per trillion

70

parts per trillion

 

5.5 – 5.7

parts per trillion*

Not Tested

Not Detected

Perfluorohexanoic acid

(PFHxA)

560,000

parts per trillion

--

 

8.3 - 9.2

parts per trillion*

Not Tested

Not Detected

Hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid

(HFPO-DA)

560

parts per trillion

--

 

Not Detected

Not Tested

Not Detected

*Minimum Reporting Level is 2 parts per trillion, which equals the lowest value that can be measured with the IEPA’s test.

IS MY WATER SAFE TO DRINK? 

The Village of Cary’s drinking water continues to meet all federal and state drinking water standards and is safe to drink. 

While PFOA was detected at one of the water treatment plant test sites, it is well below the US EPA’s health advisory level of 70 parts per trillion.

The U.S. and IEPA are in the early stages of developing regulatory drinking water standards for safe PFAS levels in drinking water. At this time, no enforceable federal or state drinking water standards (known as a Maximum Contaminant Level, or MCL) exist for any of the more than 5,000 known PFAS chemicals. The development of an MCL may take the IEPA and US EPA multiple years.

In the interim, the IEPA has asked local agencies to aid in their process of collecting data for their PFAS Investigation Network to develop a state MCL. While the Village’s drinking water continues to meet all Federal and State drinking water standards and is safe to drink, the IEPA has also requested that the Village continue to monitor drinking water following the IEPA PFAS investigation plan. 

WHAT IS THE VILLAGE DOING ABOUT PFAS IN ITS WELLS?

The Village is taking a pro-active approach working with the IEPA and consulting engineering firms to develop options to mitigate PFAS in its drinking water. 

Due to our water system’s available capacity versus current demand, the Village has the luxury of temporarily reducing or eliminating the flows from Wells #8 and/or #9, even though this is not required by the IEPA or US EPA. Additional testing of the raw water from both wells was completed and found that the PFOA is present in only one of the two wells that feed the shared treatment plant (Well #8), but at levels below the US EPA's health advisory level of 70 parts per trillion. Out of an abundance of caution, Well #8 is temporarily offline while the IEPA and US EPA continue their studies and complete the process to establish formal drinking water standards for PFOA. Other wells in the village's water system are able to meet current demand while this process continues.

WHERE CAN I FIND MORE INFORMATION?

Additional information regarding PFAS, the statewide PFAS investigation network, and the impact on public health can be found on the Illinois EPA PFAS webpage: https://www2.illinois.gov/epa/topics/water-quality/pfas/Pages/default.aspx

All confirmed drinking water sampling results for Cary are available on Illinois EPA’s Drinking Water Watch system at: http://water.epa.state.il.us/dww/index.jsp

If you have questions about PFAS and drinking water, please contact:

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Barb Lieberoff, Office of Community Relations, epa.pfas@illinois.gov, 217-524-3038)

 or

Illinois Department of Public Health (Brian Koch, Division of Environmental Health, Brian.Koch@illinois.gov, 217-782-5830)